When your heart breaks

Activated - - FRONT PAGE - By Koos Stenger Koos Stenger is a free­lance writer in the Nether­lands. ■

I had sung Frank E. Gra­eff’s hymn, “Does Je­sus Care?” many times be­fore and al­ways felt com­forted by its grace and beauty. But the words re­ally came to life af­ter our one-yearold son Martin passed away. Martin had al­ways been frail, from the day he was born, half an hour af­ter his twin brother. They were born in Brazil two months early and had to be on life support. His brother quickly over­came that dif­fi­cult start in life, but not Martin. He had a heart de­fect and un­der­went surgery at six weeks, which he strug­gled to re­cover from.

We pleaded with God, mo­bi­lized a prayer chain, fol­lowed ev­ery bit of ad­vice from doc­tors, and did all we could to sus­tain his lit­tle life, but it was be­com­ing in­creas­ingly ap­par­ent Martin would not be with us for long.

Then some­body received a vi­sion in prayer. “Martin is go­ing to be healed,” this person said ex­cit­edly. “I saw him run­ning in fields of green. He was so happy.” But we knew it was a vi­sion of our son in heaven to pre­pare us for his home­go­ing, a vi­sion of the world that was call­ing Martin to leave his suf­fer­ing be­hind and where he would be free from pain and hard­ship.

A few days later, God took him peace­fully as he lay in his mother’s lap. We knew it was com­ing; God had pre­pared our hearts. But it was still heart­break­ing. Par­ents are not sup­posed to out­live their chil­dren and bury them in lit­tle cas­kets in a for­eign coun­try.

Peo­ple of­ten ask us, “Where was God when your son needed Him? Couldn’t He have healed Martin so he would still be with you to­day?” Of course we know He could have. But that’s not the point.

The point is that God was there; hold­ing us ev­ery step of the way, pro­vid­ing peace, grace, and even joy in the knowl­edge that our lit­tle one was safe in His arms. What’s more, we will see Martin again when we too cross that river and throw out our an­chors on the shores of eter­nity.

Does Je­sus care when I’ve said “good­bye” To the dear­est on earth to me? And my sad heart aches till it nearly breaks— Is it aught to Him? Does He see? Oh, yes, He cares, I know He cares, His heart is touched with my grief; When the days are weary, the long nights dreary, I know my Sav­ior cares.

—Frank E. Gra­eff (1860–1919)

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